|Native to||Papua New Guinea|
|Latin script (Motu alphabet)
Motu (sometimes called Pure Motu or True Motu to distinguish it from Hiri Motu) is one of many Central Papuan Tip languages and is spoken by the Motuans, native inhabitants of Papua New Guinea. It is commonly used today in the region, particularly around the capital, Port Moresby.
A simplified form of Motu developed as a trade language in the Papuan region, in the southeast of the main island of New Guinea, originally known as Police Motu, and today known as Hiri Motu. After Tok Pisin and English, Hiri Motu was at the time of independence the third most commonly spoken of the more than 800 languages of Papua New Guinea, although its use has been declining for some years, mainly in favour of Tok Pisin.
Motu is a typical Austronesian language in that it is heavily vowel-based. Every Motu syllable ends in a vowel sound — this may be preceded by a single consonant (there are no "consonant clusters"). Vowel sounds may be either "pure" (consisting of a single basic sound) or diphthong (consisting of more than one basic sound). There are only five "pure" vowel sounds (approximately those of Italian); Motu diphthongs are written (and pronounced) as combinations of two "pure" vowels. The diphthongs "oi" and "oe" (both approximately like the diphthong in the English word "boy"), ""ai" and "ae" (both approximately like the diphthong in the English word "high") and "ao" and "au" (both approximately like the diphthong in the English word "cow") are the only vowel sounds that present difficulties.
There are sixteen consonants. These are b, d, g, gw, h, k, kw, l, m, n, p, r, s, t, v, and the velar fricative (ɣ), usually written as ḡ. The letter "r" is an alveolar lateral flap or "flapped r"; its IPA symbol is (ɺ), and it is closer to "l" than the equivalent consonant in English. In practice, the letters "r" and "l" form a single phoneme to native speakers of Motu. There is no letter "f": When it occurs in loan words, it is usually represented as "p".
- Motu at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Motu". Glottolog 2.2. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.
- Wurm and Harris, 1963, p. 1
- Unesco reports the language as simply "Motu", but Ethnologue 17 only notes braille usage for Hiri Motu. However, Hiri Motu does not have the letter ḡ.
- Dutton, Tom (1985). Police Motu: Iena Sivarai (its story). Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea: University of Papua New Guinea Press.
- Lister-Turner, R and Clark, J.B. (1931), A Dictionary of the Motu Language of Papua, 2nd Edition (P. Chatterton, ed). Sydney, New South Wales: Government Printer.
- Lister-Turner, R and Clark, J.B. (1931), A Grammar of the Motu Language of Papua, 2nd Edition (P. Chatterton, ed). Sydney, New South Wales: Government Printer.
- Brett, Richard; Brown, Raymond; Brown, Ruth and Foreman, Velma. (1962), A Survey of Motu and Police Motu. Ukarumpa, Papua New Guinea: Summer Institute of Linguistics.
- Wurm, S.A. and Harris, J.B., Police Motu, Canberra: Summer Institute of Linguistics, 1963
|Motu language test of Wikipedia at Wikimedia Incubator|
|For a list of words relating to Motu language, see the Motu language category of words in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|